Learning Influence Functions from Incomplete Observations

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 29 (NIPS 2016)

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Xinran He, Ke Xu, David Kempe, Yan Liu


We study the problem of learning influence functions under incomplete observations of node activations. Incomplete observations are a major concern as most (online and real-world) social networks are not fully observable. We establish both proper and improper PAC learnability of influence functions under randomly missing observations. Proper PAC learnability under the Discrete-Time Linear Threshold (DLT) and Discrete-Time Independent Cascade (DIC) models is established by reducing incomplete observations to complete observations in a modified graph. Our improper PAC learnability result applies for the DLT and DIC models as well as the Continuous-Time Independent Cascade (CIC) model. It is based on a parametrization in terms of reachability features, and also gives rise to an efficient and practical heuristic. Experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the ability of our method to compensate even for a fairly large fraction of missing observations.